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#1 ‘A MAMIL For All Seasons’

By Chris McGuire Guest Blogger

Chris 1-1

I’ve just had a cleat failure. Know what I mean?

If you’ve never had it, you will if you start riding ‘clipless’. For the uninitiated, being ‘clipped in’ is great for building speed and using your energy economically, but it’s less good if you want to maintain balance when moving slowly. Keeping upright in these situations is a skill I haven’t fully mastered; as all the dents in the pavement outside my house show.


As I lay on my side once again, a question popped into my head.
“Why on Earth do I do this?”
And just as quickly an answer
“I do it because it makes me feel alive!”

I’m a big fella, 6’5” and around 18 stone. But before I started cycling I was even heavier – about 22 stone. Back then I felt sport was like stamp collecting: great for those who were interested in it, but I really couldn’t see the attraction. I didn’t see my weight as a problem; it was all part of my charm. Then, in my mid-30’s, I went on holiday to Spain and things changed. This trip became legendary in my social circles because of what my friends called: ‘Patio-furniture-gate’.
On this single holiday I managed to break 7 items of patio furniture just by sitting on them. 7 broken chairs and loungers is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite a lot.

For a short period I was in denial, reasoning there had been a sudden downturn in the quality of continental plastic furniture. Yet eventually – as I lay on my back on top of another crushed chair – I came to the realisation that it was me, not the furniture, that was the problem.

I was told I needed a low impact sport to help me lose weight and get fit and after an extensive research (a quick Google) I came up with cycling. Initially it wasn’t a natural fit - a 22 stone man and Lycra weren't the World’s greatest combination and as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, the ballet-dancing hippos in Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ sprang to mind.

On my maiden voyage I learned some lessons. Before I’d got to the end of my street I’d discovered it was the right decision to wear padded shorts, without them I’d be permanently walking like John Wayne. I learned another lesson when I stopped at traffic lights and received a chorus of wolf whistles. For some reason, becoming a cyclist makes you massively attractive to builders. I waved to my fans and carried on. Finally I learned that cycling can be exhausting.

I didn’t go far on that 1st ride and on my return, collapsed onto the sofa, but even as I lay exhausted, I was determined to go out again the next day. My fans in the building trade deserved that much! So that’s what I did and the rest is, as they say, history.

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve had some ups and downs along the way - weight has come off and gone back on again and I’ve recently been diagnosed with Diabetes, which threw me off course for a while, but I’m back on my bike and I don’t regret for one moment my decision to be a cyclist.

Over the coming months I’ll be sharing my cycling adventures with you but for now, I'm off to slip into my Lycra.

Fat Lad At The Back Chris McGuire

Chris McGuire is a writer who lives in the Westcountry. He loves riding his bike and in no way resembles a dancing hippo. @McGuireski
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